Calcium, magnesium, zinc, and vitamin D are the four pillars of building and maintaining healthy bones and teeth.
Even after we stop growing, we are continually breaking down and rebuilding our bones to repair microfractures and maintain bone health1. This process is called bone remodeling.
We also use calcium and magnesium from our bones to keep our blood and tissues in a state of homeostasis, which is the constant state of balance our bodies require to stay alive2. So, our bones are not only important to allow us to run and jump, but because they also provide a resource of the minerals that keep our bodies in balance.
Calcium and magnesium are also essential for our muscles to function. Every time our heart beats, we blink, or wiggle our toes, we use calcium and magnesium to trigger the contraction and relaxation of our muscle fibres2. If we are not able to get enough of these nutrients from the diet, our bodies extract them from our bones to maintain homeostasis and allow our muscles to continue to contract and relax2.
Lack of zinc from the diet and vitamin D from the sun also impacts the bone remodeling process and can lead to weakened and brittle bones. Zinc promotes bone growth and regeneration3. Vitamin D allows us to effectively absorb calcium and is essential for mineralization of calcium into bone4.
Over time, the donation of calcium and magnesium from our bones to our tissues to maintain homeostasis and muscle function results in increasingly brittle and weak bone remodelling1. Low bone density, called osteoporosis, increases our risk of fractures and falls, which is a leading cause of decline in quality of life, wellness, and independence as we age.
The loss of bone density is a slow and silent process, and we typically don’t realize that it’s happening until we’re given a diagnosis of osteoporosis, or we experience a fracture. However, 10% of Canadians over the age of 406and 21% of postmenopausal women are osteoporotic6. Shockingly, after experiencing a hip fracture in Canada, 22% of women and 33% of men die in the first year6, and an increased risk of mortality in the remainder of hip fracture patients over the next ten years.
These numbers are astounding, especially given that osteoporosis is a largely preventable disease. Meeting daily nutrition requirements for calcium, magnesium, zinc, and achieving adequate levels of vitamin D from sun exposure and supplements is an essential part of preventing osteoporosis1-6.